- Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Commonwealth Places and Real Estate Services Technical Assistance Programs in Gardner
Kelsey Schiller, Director of Communications & Media Relations
Gardner — Today, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba, Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera were joined by state and local officials in Gardner to celebrate the Commonwealth Places and Real Estate Services Technical Assistance awards, which include:
- Commonwealth Places awards total $385,663 to 12 projects.
- Real Estate Services Technical Assistance awards total $250,000 to seven projects.
Among the awards, the City of Gardner received a $30,000 Commonwealth Places grant to create six parklets in downtown parking spaces to provide outdoor dining for area restaurants. Additionally, the City of Gardner received a $40,000 Real Estate Services Technical Assistance grant to proceed with the implementation phase of two District Improvement Financing (DIF) Districts, which encompass the city’s two Urban Renewal Areas.
“We have been proud to partner with communities to deliver the resources they need to help them achieve locally identified goals,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We’re pleased to award over half a million dollars to help cities, towns and local organizations pursue placemaking and real estate projects that will advance economic growth in their communities.”
“This year, the Community One Stop for Growth is awarding more than $143 million in grant awards across 12 programs for a range of local economic development projects in Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places and Real Estate Services Technical Assistance programs, both of which are new to the One Stop this year, are two key resources helping communities work creatively to tackle local priorities for the benefit of residents and businesses.”
“These are important programs that help local partners pave the way for jobs and housing creation,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “This funding will help municipalities and local organizations reimagine public spaces, explore opportunities for developing blighted buildings and parcels, and build community to advance downtown neighborhoods.”
“These awards help communities find creative ways to utilize public spaces, drive foot traffic to commercial centers, and tackle their unique economic development challenges,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is grateful for the Baker-Polito Administration’s support of these tools and their commitment to making it easier for municipalities and organizations to tap into their economic potential.”
Administered by MassDevelopment, Commonwealth Places advances place-based, community-driven projects to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, such as new outdoor community spaces, public art exhibits, cultural events, and more. The statewide initiative leverages public support for placemaking projects, aiming to engage and mobilize communities to contribute to projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if a community or organization reaches its match goal. Created in 2016, through eight rounds Commonwealth Places has launched 158 projects, representing a $6.7 million investment from community funding and MassDevelopment matching funds.
Also administered by MassDevelopment, Real Estate Services Technical Assistance aims to address site-specific and district-wide economic development challenges. Through a combination of in-house expertise and contracts with consultants, under this program MassDevelopment works with municipal officials, planners, local stakeholders, and others to address priority planning and development projects through creative solutions and clear, implementable action steps. Created in 2017, the program has awarded $1.65 million to help 41 communities advance their economic development goals through 46 projects.
The programs are part of Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal that provides a streamlined, collaborative review process of 12 state grant programs that fund economic development projects related to community capacity building, planning and zoning, site preparation, building construction, and infrastructure. Altogether, this round of the One Stop is awarding more than $143 million in grant awards to support 337 local economic development projects in 169 communities. The full list of grants can be found here.
Through this round of the One Stop, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received 523 applications from 207 communities representing every region of the Commonwealth. Of the 337 applications awarded, 31% are located in a rural or small town; 32% are located in a Gateway City; and 43% are located in a Housing Choice Community. This investment is expected to directly support the creation of 6,950 new housing units across the Commonwealth, including 5,068 new market-rate units and 1,882 new affordable units.
MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.
“The City, Mayor and City Council continues to demonstrate strong leadership by partnering with the Administration and Legislature to obtain necessary funding,” said Senator Anne Gobi. “The City continues to improve on making its roads and public spaces more welcoming and utilized fully. This funding will assist in those efforts.”
“I am very excited to see the positive impacts these grants will have on Gardner in the very near future,” said Gardner Mayor Michael J. Nicholson. “Working with the Baker-Polito Administration, Gardner has made large strides in our economic development goals of revitalizing our downtown and building a community people feel happy and proud to call their home. I’d like to thank the Administration, Secretary Kennealy, and MassDevelopment for their continued commitment to giving our cities and towns the tools they need to be successful and building a stronger Commonwealth from the ground up.”
Commonwealth Places Awards:
- Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce (Amherst) – $5,000
The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will partner with the Town of Amherst, The Mill District in North Amherst, and businesses of South Amherst’s Pomeroy Village to implement a placemaking and common space activation project through the introduction of plantings, picnic tables, and Adirondack chairs in Village Centers to create outdoor gathering space that will encourage social cohesion and increase foot traffic in the neighborhood business districts of South and North Amherst.
- Town of Blandford – $15,800
The uneven surface of the library’s lawn and adjacent carriage walk, as well as the damaged exterior lighting, create a barrier for use. This placemaking project will highlight the patio and seating options and provide bike parking and outdoor book lockers.
- Now and There, Inc. (Boston) – $50,000
Lot Lab is an artist-led transformation of a vacant, highly visible Charlestown parcel – lot and exterior of the NPS-owned Hoosac building – into a 24/7 outdoor gathering space that creates a nexus of art, meaning-making, and community.
- Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park (Fitchburg) – $2,750
Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park plans to hold a Juneteenth block party to celebrate completion of the final phase of the park's development, including a mural and development of augmented reality.
- Amazing Things Arts Center, Inc. (Framingham) – $29,613
This 600-square-foot urban greenspace will occupy the front and side of the art center’s historic Firehouse venue. In addition to original art, the garden will feature accessible seating, a Little Free Library, garden beds for a collaborative Urban Garden Initiative, and free WIFI for public enjoyment and enrichment.
- City of Gardner – $30,000
The City of Gardner will create six parklets in downtown parking spaces for the restaurants to have outdoor dining. Funding will be used to design and construct pop-up patios with barriers, tables, chairs, and outdoor amenities.
- Community Teamwork, Inc. (Lowell) – $50,000
In partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park, Community Teamwork is proposing to increase visibility and “place” for the FY23 Lowell Farmers Market, encouraging a family-friendly atmosphere that will encourage families with children to attend.
- Massachusetts Design Art Technology Institute (New Bedford) – $50,000
SHELTER 2022-2023 is a phased, two-year initiative in which DATMA, commissioned designers, artists, technologists, and multiple partners will produce culturally relevant, shelter-themed programming that is intended to encourage meaningful dialogue about topics important to the community: abolitionism, affordable housing, homelessness, and seaside ecological and environmental issues.
- Forbes Library (Northampton) – $2,500
Forbes Library will develop a design and formulate construction documents to support electrical service and a performance stage to hold community outdoor events. The west lawn of Forbes Library is used for community programs, but without any infrastructure support, the type of events are limited.
- City of Quincy – $50,000
The main objective of this project is to create an outdoor gathering and green space within the North Quincy Business District area. Parklet upgrades to the Vane Street Alley and North Quincy Library will include landscaping, seating, gathering spots, decorative lighting, resurfacing.
- North Shore Community Development Coalition (Salem) – $50,000
Casa de Abuela (Grandma’s House) is an immersive cultural experience which captures Dominican country life through a replica of a home and small colmado/home business, which is common for families in the Dominican Republic.
- Common Wealth Mural Collaborative (Springfield) – $50,000
Fresh Paint Springfield (FPS) is an annual mural festival in Springfield that began in 2019. FPS is dedicated to creating public art installations which boost economic activity. In 2023, FPS will install 10 murals in the North End and Indian Orchard.
Real Estate Services Technical Assistance Awards:
- Town of Boxford – $25,000
This is a project to develop a plan for the re-use of the former Senior Community Center at 4 Middleton Road, focused on the feasibility of affordable housing at the property. The plan will include community engagement and feasibility analysis.
- City of Gardner – $40,000
This is a project to proceed with the implementation of phase of two District Improvement Financing (DIF) Districts, which encompass the city’s two Urban Renewal Areas. The project will include creating a DIF master plan, holding leadership and public information sessions, and giving presentations to City Council for adoption of the DIF Districts and plan.
- Town of Hull – $25,000
The Town has conducted the feasibility phase of creating a BID in the Nantasket Beach area and has identified a BID as an optimum means of revitalizing the area. This project will continue the work to implement and adopt the BID.
- City of Malden – $30,000
This is a project to conduct a re-use study and operator RFP for the planned Center for the Arts & Culture located at the former Malden District Courthouse. The project will include a study to show needed capital improvements and a financial feasibility operating model.
- City of Medford – $50,000
This is a project to proceed with feasibility analysis to create a Medford Square DIF. The project will include public engagement, proposing district boundaries, estimating new growth, and potential revenue.
- Town of Rowley – $30,000
This is a project to develop an RFP for identifying and selecting an affordable housing developer for a two-acre parcel of town-owned, affordable housing restricted land located along Main Street and walkable to downtown, an elementary school, and MBTA station.
- City of Taunton – $50,000
This is a project to evaluate the highest and best use of the now-closed city-owned Taunton Nursing Home, so that the city can make an informed decision about the future re-use of the six-acre site.